Day 2 of working from home, Indistractable chapters 3- 4

I had another rather successful day today. I helped coworkers figure out how numbers work, updated 4 reports, deployed code, added to some analysis work, and now I'm heading to dinner with one of my friends.

Chapter 3, What Motivates Us, Really?

Eyal shares a story about Zoe Chance, who became obsessed with her fitness tracker. The program would constantly egg her on with small tasks to earn virtual rewards. The first few rewards were fun when she started her program, but she found herself climbing the stairs in her basement at 2am, attempting to triple her points for the day. She doesn't want to stop, as the loss of these points would feel awful.  He then discusses how humans are motivated more toward removing a desire instead of actually seeking pleasure.

Chapter summary:

  • Understand the root cause of distraction. Separate proximate causes from the root cause.
  • All motivation is a desire to escape discomfort. If a behavior is previously effective at providing relief, we're likely to use it again as a tool to escape discomfort.
  • Anything that stops discomfort is potentially addictive, but that doesn't make it irresistible. If you know the drivers of your behavior, you can take steps to manage them.

Chapter 4, Time Management is Pain Management

Eyal notes that if distraction costs us time, Time Management is Pain Management. If I allow myself to read Reddit for two hours before doing my work, I'm just putting off my work and distracting myself from my goal - and likely I'm feeling guilty about it.

Chapter summary:

  • Time Management is Pain Management. Distractions cost us time, and like all actions, they are spurred by the desire to escape discomfort.
  • Evolution favored dissatisfaction over contentment. Our tendencies toward boredom, negativity bias, rumination and hedonistic adaption conspire to make sure we're never satisfied for long.
  • Dissatisfaction is responsible for our species' advancements as much as its faults. It is an innate power that can be channeled to help us make things better.
  • If we want to master distraction, we must learn to deal with discomfort.


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